Wednesday, 24 March 2010

4 great Hikes and Rambles in Hawaii

If you are an avid hiker, you will have a blast on Oahu. And even if you're not, there are some very nice trails and short hikes worth checking out. Many of the trails on Oahu were blazed by the early Hawaiians. Like many nature oriented Oahu activities, hiking on Oahu is free -- and thanks to the State, you needn't spend any money on hiking guides or maps either!

Guided Oahu Hikes

Many Hawaii Eco Tour services offer guided hikes, but you can go on a Hawaii Sierra Club hike for free (although they do suggest a small donation). Just go to their Website and click on the Oahu on the map in the middle of the page. On the Oahu page, click on "Outings" on the menu on the left. There is a calendar listing outings up to three months in advance. The outings range from easy and suitable for young children to difficult and they include service project outings.

Oahu Hiking Safety & Self Guided Hikes

If you don't want to go with the group, visit the Hawaii's Trail and Access System, Na Ala Hele Administered by the Department of Land and Natural Resources, under the Division of Forestry and Wildlife, the Na Ala Hele Website provides detailed information on many of Oahu's hiking trails, as well as their Trail Safety Guidelines.

Hiking in Hawaii may be very different from your hiking in your local region, so please read their safety guidelines!

You can also obtain permits here to collect plants in a state forest reserve. You may want to collect flowers, leaves or ferns for lei-making (more on this later).

Also download the State's free guide to "Hiking Safety."

Na Ala Hele's trail information includes whether a given trail can be used by mountain bikes, the length, difficulty, its' points of interest, printable topographic maps, driving directions and bus routes - all for free. They also give updated news and critical alerts about trails (you'll see the link when you're reading about a specific trail).

Here, you can locate on a map of Oahu an area that you're interested in hiking, and then by clicking on the number (not the pinpoint) the page opens with directions, details, photos and a topographic map. Or if you know the name of a trail you can use the drop down menu.

The American Hiking Society offers a long list of Oahu hikes with simple maps and extremely brief descriptions. It's a good place to start if you're not sure what you are looking for. When you find a description that suits you, take the name of the trail to the Hawaii site where you can get a map for free.

Here a few of Oahu's most popular hiking trails.


Diamond Head: This national monument is home to the most popular Oahu hike! The moderate trek is made by people of all ages, is about one mile long one way and climbs 560 feet from the crater floor. Bring a flashlight for when you pass through the 225-foot tunnel. Also, be sure to bring water because it can get pretty hot up there. The trail offers sweeping vistas of Honolulu, and the crater floor where the trailhead is located offers a nice meadow for picnics.

If you don't mind sharing the trail with mountain bikers and aren't afraid of heights as in with sheer cliffs, you might enjoy the Aiea Loop Trail at Keaiwa Heiau State Park. This traverse through the site of an ancient healing temple in the foothills of the verdant Koolau Range. Above the town of Aiea, the trail winds through tall forests of eucalyptus, koa and other beautiful trees. The trail offers views of majestic canyons, Pearl Harbor, the Koolau Range and Central Oahu. It is about 4.5 miles long and about half of that is through a residential area.

Manoa Falls is beautiful to behold, an inspiring reward for the mile and half hike; however swimming in the small pool beneath the falls is not allowed and because of the danger, violators may be cited. As with any waterfall watch out for possible falling rocks from the top, in this case a long way up.

It gets darker up here in the forest before the standard sunset time so leave well before then because there are slippery roots and couple places with the trail narrows near precipices. This hike is very popular with locals.


At the foot of the Koolau Mountains on the Windward side, the lush, Maunawilie Falls Trail is an easy 1.25 mile hike that winds through fragrant white and yellow ginger (blooms in Hawaii's summer May through October) and mountain apple trees, crosses a stream several times and climbs gently.

The trail offers views of Koolaupoko watershed and gulches, and then descends down a long flight of steps to a lovely waterfall and pool.

For more hiking information, including links to details and photos of hikes introduced above, visit I've just written a new ebook about how to have a cheap but amazing eco vacation on Oahu, and there's a whole chapter devoted to Oahu Hiking. It's called the Hawaii Eco Budget Guide to Oahu, and you'll see a links to it on my Hawaii site.

Happy Trails,

Cindy Blankenship

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